Monday, July 11, 2005

FGC Gathering 2005: The Experience of a clerking young Friend - SUNDAY (First Day)

The first day of Gathering is often slightly disappointing, only because I find myself comparing it to the end of the previous Gathering. At the beginning of any FGC Gathering, the high school program is not as united and centered and one as it is by the end of the week. So when thinking of how the previous Gathering ended in a state of immense loving unity and oneness, the first day of a not-yet gathered Gathering does not seem nearly as exciting. However, I began to find the hints of oneness in this day, getting a taste of things to come later in the week. A deeper faith began to grow within me.

Sunday morning I found myself at an outdoor all-Gathering meeting for worship. I felt a bit unfocused, which worried me a little, but I didn’t dwell on it. I was happy to be among so many Friends. About half an hour after meeting for worship, the first workshop session was to occur.

I walked into my workshop, Ways to Love your Enemies (led by John Helding), to find that I was the only young Friend there. I wasn’t necessarily surprised, but it seemed to have more of an impact on me than I originally thought it would. My first reaction was sort of an “Oh no, should I switch workshops after this? Maybe I should..” Then, though, I thought about one of the issues I’m passionate about among Quakers, an issue I wrote an essay about (which will appear in the coming FGConnections and a book soon to come out) – The Importance of Friendship among Young Friends and Adults. On the other hand, I didn’t want that to be the only reason I stayed in the workshop. I needed to know that I would be comfortable sharing among this group. As the morning continued, the group of Friends in the workshop seemed to come together, and I began to feel more comfortable. By the end of the session on that morning, I felt clear that I would stay in this workshop for the week. When John (the leader) asked me, “See you in the morning?” as I was about to leave, I was able to honestly and confidently answer “Yes.” In this clarity, I believe I began to find the first bit of a great growing faith within me.

In the afternoon I visited FGC bookstore (which was set up on campus for Gathering) and got a heap of books and pamphlets (I’ll talk about which ones later), and then we meet with our support groups. I began to get to know the other 9 people in my support group (as I knew none of them from previous gatherings), and we discerned which one of us would go on to be a member of Nurture Committee (I didn’t count since I was a Nurture Committee clerk). In this process, I found that members of this support group of mine were very centered and thoughtful, even if they themselves were not necessarily aware of it. I was very excited about this.

The first Nurture Committee met directly after support groups. This was the first time I clerked a group as large as 17, and though I was co-clerking with Susannah (and thus not alone), and had served on Nurture Committee the year before, I was still a little bit unsure of myself. This in mind, I didn’t over-prepare; I just went in keeping in mind the basics of clerking, and let it go naturally. The young Friends on this committee seemed to also be very centered and committed, which was most incredible. I found yet more faith (look – more faith! It’s growing..), and my excitement became even more grounded.

Eventually, I met with my fellow HS program clerks to prepare for the first Meeting for Worship with Concern for Business, which was to happen that night. Having never been in the clerking position before, I was more excited about this particular Meeting for Business than previous ones. After we met as clerks, I spent the hour before it was to begin running around campus with the alternate HS clerk, Hilary, (who is fully involved in clerk meetings and such during the week, while not having an official clerking role) posting messages, finding a person or two, and then setting up the room for the meeting.

Despite quite an agenda, the first Meeting for Business went very smoothly; it was wonderful. I found great faith (and it grows..) in the high school community for the week – there were so many people who seemed centered on the issues and who were participating. It was really wonderful.

It looks like this series of posts I’m writing about my experiences may be a day by day type of thing. However, I hope to have future posts a little less play-by-play as this one seems to be. The intensity picked up on Monday, I promise. This may be a lot of reading, but I do hope Friends find it worth the time. I have so much to express! If anything, this will be a good record of the 2005 Gathering for me to look back upon in the weeks and months (and possibly years) to come.

Monday coming soon..

Love and Light,


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Blogger Danny said...

Hi Claire,

I've enjoyed reading about your Gathering experience but don't really have anything worthwhile to say at this point.

I just noticed your response to my earlier comment. I'm living in the Chapel Hill Friends Meetinghouse this summer and we should definately meet up some time! Also, I hear that an unnamed DFM young Friend who is living in Chapel Hill will be having a membership related clearness committee in the CHFM Meetinghouse tomorrow evening. Um. Maybe it's you. :-P

love and light


11/7/05 11:12 PM  
Blogger Claire said...

Amazing! yes!

12/7/05 12:03 AM  
Blogger Joe G. said...


I, too, am enjoying reading of your experiences at this year's Gathering.

I have a few questions. What do you mean by "Nurture" Committee? Is this the same thing as a "Ministry & Counsel" committee? Or does it function differently?

I'm glad that you sensed your faith growing. What a great experience!

12/7/05 1:22 PM  
Blogger Claire said...

Until last year, Nurture Committee was actually called Oversight Committee. It's purpose is to take any concerns from the community and discern how to address them. For instance, if someone (or multiple someones) were concerned about quiet hours in the dorm, they would tell someone from Nurture Committee. That person would then bring it up during the committee meeting, and the committee would then discern what to do about that concern. It could mean that members of Nurture Committee brought the concern back to support groups by giving a gentle reminder to remain quiet during quiet hours, or it could mean taking it to Meeting for Business and discerning with the entire community whether quiet hours need to be changed. It's up to Nurture Committee to figure out how the concern needs to be addressed.

It's also a very good way to get messages about concerns back to everyone in the community - there's a member from each support group on Nurture Committee. (For a little more clarification about the structure of the HS program at Gathering, see my Preface post to this series of posts (I don't know how to link it here, otherwise I would).)

Is that at all helpful?

12/7/05 5:54 PM  
Blogger Joe G. said...

Yep, thanks. Very clear!

13/7/05 11:12 PM  

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